My Groupie obligations led my kids and me to attend a church in Maryland this past weekend. After considerable WTB (Whining, Threats and Bribery), we cleaned ourselves up and headed down 83 to attend the service because dear friends were singing in the service, and I rarely pass up an opportunity to hear them sing. They sing as a family (think the Von Trappes with all grown up beautiful children). I can’t imagine my own children singing the same song, let alone standing so near each other. My kids were mildly impressed (although they were wildly impressed by the donuts – with sprinkles!). I thought they were great (the singers, not the donuts).
Anyway, during the children’s time, the church highlighted their children’s camp held the previous week. The theme was making choices about food that impact the world. I’m sure you can imagine my delight.
As committed as I am to sustainable living and organic food, I have never considered it from a spiritual perspective. The premise, I imagine, put forth during this camp was that our faith is reflected in the choices we make about the food we eat. How basic. We have an opportunity several times a day to enact our beliefs.
If we believe in the inherent worth and dignity of all individuals, that should include the farmers who work hard to raise healthy food. We can choose to pay them a living wage for the food they produce. Sometimes that means paying a little more at the register or seeking out the farmers themselves so we can buy direct. It might mean supporting our farmers markets or requesting more local, sustainably grown food from the stores where we shop. It can mean reading labels about how a product was produced before we put it in our cart.
If we believe that we are responsible for the other living creatures that inhabit our planet, then we can choose to buy from farmers and manufacturers that treat their animals with respect and care. We can buy meat that has not been grown in feedlots. We can support legislators and legislation that restricts the increase of these operations and questions the conditions in which these animals are raised and our food is processed.
I am not a vegetarian. I believe our bodies were designed to eat meat. At the same time, I feel strongly that we owe our gratitude and best care to the animals raised to support us. Choosing to buy meat directly from farms where animals are raised on grass and treated with kindness helps me to live that belief.
We raise our chickens ourselves and give them the best possible life we can because they produce the eggs we eat. As much as I joke about them, they are important to our lives and we treat them as such. Next week, I am taking my kids to the farm where the cows live that provide our milk. I think we need to say thank you and see for ourselves that they are living in happy and healthy conditions.
And here’s a powerful motivator for eating healthy - if we truly believe that God created our bodies as temples, then we will treat them as such. We will take care with how we nourish it. We make a decision about the value of our bodies every time we put something in our mouths. The next time those campers reach for a bag of Doritos, perhaps they will pause before they consume the entire bag. And when they open the fridge (and stand there for what seems like hours letting all the cold air out and running up the electric bill), maybe they’ll take a gander in to the fruit drawer and consider their options.
I’m impressed with a church that recognizes the personal power that our food decisions grant us. I’m even more impressed when they find it so important that they plan an entire children’s camp around the theme.
The service we attended was wonderful – beautiful music, a strong and important message, but it was the children’s time that really challenged me and made me think. (I think this is the case at many services, yes?) As you do your shopping this week and as you plan your menus, consider whether you are living what you believe. When we eat our beliefs, we eat well and we make a difference.